Cher reunites with ‘Burlesque’ co-star on ‘The Voice’ … sort of

burlesque photocall 091210Cher and Christina Aguilera, who starred together in the camp classic film Burlesque in 2010, will be reunited again this fall … sort of.

Cher has been added to the cast of The Voice — not as a “coach” (the foursome that sit in revolving chairs and pick the singers they want to mentor) — but as an “adviser,” a behind-the-scenes expert who counsels the coach on how to bring out the best in each contestant. Aguilera, of course, is one of the coaches.

Only Cher won’t be on Aguilera’s team — she’ll be the adviser to Blake Shelton. Christina’s adviser will be Ed Sheeran.

The Voice returns Sept. 23.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

SOUND BITES: Kelly and Christina are back on disc

Kelly Clarkson, Greatest Hits: Chapter One.  It’s telling that Kelly Clarkson tacks her very first single at the end of the album like a footnote: “A Moment Like This” shot the singer into superstardom after it became her winning American Idol anthem. You can still hear the joy in the North Texan sweetheart’s voice, and you can practically see the tears coming out of those clichés.

Now that she’s been singing infinitely better songs, she’s not looking back at that ditty with the same joyful regard (even Clarkson’s knocked the cheese ball herself). But, for better or worse, it made her a household name, even if it never defined her as an artist. Clarkson was too feisty — too good — for a song like that. “Breakaway,” setting the stage for her power-pop makeover, would become her first major hit, and boy, did it ever. Between then and now she’d record the coveted 2004 kiss-off “Since U Been Gone,” and its doppelgängers, “My Life Would Suck Without You” and “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” — all included among the 17 tracks, with only one from My December (whew!). Though her biggest hits are sound giants, this collection, which includes two of her best ballads, gives a fuller perspective of the talented pop star. The new songs represent an artist capable of almost anything: She goes country for “Don’t Rush” and does the juggernaut “People Like Us,” where she leads an army of underdogs (“the lost and forgotten”) into a fierce battle cry. Of all the things she’s accomplished in 10 years, it’s about time we got a gay anthem.

Christina Aguilera, LotusChristina Aguilera opens her seventh album by calling this a “rebirth” despite her “broken pieces” — in other words, a really bad few years (last album, tabloids and Burlesque). After spending much of her career doing what she’s so good at (using her voice like it’s a moon rocket) the pop singer, who got a profile-boost from The Voice, was sick of sitting in Lady Gaga’s shadow: Xtina wanted something different — something Bionic. That album, released two years ago, was a massive sound-bomb, not just commercially but creatively — who’s the dummy that thought Auto-Tuning one of the best voices ever was a good idea?

Lesson learned: Aguilera rips through these songs with all the superpower of a tsunami, sweeping up everything in its path … even Mother Monster. She slays “Your Body,” the sexy first single, as hard as she does the guys in its cartoonish video; “Army of Me” has her in Kill Bill mode, referencing herself as the “Fighter” she was in 2003, at the height of her career; and “Let There Be Love” is a glorious club smash that could be about world peace … except it’s mostly about makeup sex. Along with the Sia-written “Blank Page” — a decent tune made exponentially better by Christina’s heartfelt, powerhouse performance — those are the highlights on an album that never finds the same cohesive groove of her best work, Back to Basics and Stripped, but thankfully never gets as out-of-character as Bionic. Let Gaga be weird. You just sing, girl.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Body & Fitness: Dirty britches

Clean for now, muddy buddies Rod Orta, Jeni Maldonado and Brad Bykkonen stretch it out as they train for the grueling DFW Mud Run. Through the same goal, the three with the author found a fellowship that helps get them past the intense training. (Photo by Jef Tingley)

While preparing for the daunting DFW Mud Run, four people found fun, fitness and fellowship with one goal in mind — to finish

JEF TINGLEY  | Contributing Writer

A year ago, I thought mud was only reserved for pigs and purifying facials. Never would I have guessed that I would be counting the days to run through 6.2 miles of it while also taking on a series of military-boot-camp-inspired obstacles. But then again, a year ago I never dreamed I would be surrounded by a group of friends with the same motivation — to conquer the mud if only to say we did it.

And on April 9, that’s exactly what we plan to do at a yet-to-be-disclosed location in Tarrant County. The DFW Mud Run is an annual event and one of seven throughout the country. It celebrated its 10th anniversary in North Texas in November 2010 with almost 4,000 attendees. A quick glance at the rules and regulations on the website reveals that this run can be as serious or as silly as you like, but one thing is for sure — you will get dirty. (And not in a Christina-Aguilera-wearing-chaps kind of way.)

Our group of seven runners (growing in number as we peer pressure others) met while working out at Booty Camp. Some were already in shape; others, like myself, were first timers. Somewhere during the months of waking up early, sweating during push-ups and running loops around Lee Park, a new level of friendship formed.

Jeni Maldonado, 29, and the official straight girl of our gay boy mud run group, shares the same sentiments about the camaraderie side effects of working out en mass.

“Through [group training], I have found a true love and passion for physical fitness and made some great new friends. Since starting in May of 2010, I even changed careers and am now a personal trainer focusing on children and childhood obesity.”

Mud runners can compete on the course in a variety of timed events and specified groups made up of all-men, all-women or co-ed teams. Or, there’s a category called DGAP, which stands for Division for Generally Athletic People or “Don’t Give A Poop.” This is our group. DGAP allows runners to wear costumes, run as a group or individually, and to generally enjoy the course as they see fit.

Rod Orta, a 39-year-old East Dallas resident, started working out in groups for almost four years. Since that time, he has formed lasting friendships with his fellow fitness enthusiasts, even going on vacations with them and hosting parties for the group at his home.

A first-time mud runner, Orta says, “I wanted to experience the activity and spend time with friends.” His training plan includes “strength workouts, cardio and a cute outfit.” He’s also quick to pass on helpful hints to his fellow runners. “Wear sensible shoes. No high heels,” he jokes.

The run will also make a first-time experience for 35-year-old Bryan Place resident Mark Doty. Inspired by other friends who have done it, he says it’s just something he has wanted to do. When asked if he had any words of wisdom for would be runners, Doty simply offered ups “Since this is my first time, I would just say ‘pray.’”

Topping off the dirt, the DFW Mud Run boasts more than 30 obstacles. Judging from videos from previous runs these include balance beams, rope swings and plenty of commando crawls. But it’s still not enough to keep Brad Bykkonen, a 39-year-old Highland Park resident, away.
“It sounds like fun,” he says. “I’ve met people who I know I’ll surely be laughing with during our mud run adventure.”

Booty Camp founder Dr. Eric Peay agrees that fitness can lead to friendship. A boot camp he attended in 1998 introduced him to someone who is now his best friend. A more experienced runner, Peay has run 5K and 10K races with a specific goal or time in mind. But this mud run is, “just for the sheer fun of it,” he says.

As for me, I’ll continue to count down the days, train and hope that I can find the perfect pair of combat boots and army fatigues to wear on my inaugural muddy voyage with the hope that the friendships I’ve formed will keep the physical fatigue at bay.

Registration for the April run is still open. For more information, visit DFWMudRun.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Gayest Super Bowl moment: ‘Cram it in the Boot’

I don’t expect many overtly gay moments from the Super Bowl, but one kept coming back to me. No, it wasn’t Christina Aguilera’s anthem fail, which drag queens most likely will bypass in future performances; and it wasn’t the emergence of probable new bearish icons Brett Goode and Mike Tomlin. Actually, it was nothing that happened on the field.

The commercials were up and down in cleverness, but I have to admit, my jaw dropped in pure silence after watching this commercial. Gay? OK, maybe not overly, but I kinda doubt the straights will be running with the catchphrase, “Cram it in the boot.”

—  Rich Lopez

RICH’S MIXTAPE: Super Bowl

With so many concerts going on during Super Bowl Week, clearly music is just as much a part of the game as the game itself. The Black Eyed Peas, Prince and Duran Duran may rock us out, but try these tunes might get help get your game face on.

“Lone Star Uprising” — Hydroponic Sound System: This Dallas band’s downtempo dub is more vibe than anthem, but the Bowl is definitely a shining moment for the state … especially with the Cowboys nowhere in sight.

“Taxi Cab” — Vampire Weekend: Going to the actual game? Uh, don’t bother driving. By train or by cab, you’re better off because parking is going to be a beeyotch.

“Fair Game” — The Like: OK, once that coin toss happens, we do want good sportsmanship throughout … whether on the field or during the drinking games.

“Big Muscle” — DJ Bill Bennett: Yes, most gay men can’t resist some of those beefy players on the field. And since this is pretty much it for the season, this is the time to appreciate and salivate.

“Another Piece of Meat” — The Scorpions: Well, they are! See “Big Muscle.”

“Spit in Your Face” — Kevin Rudolph with Lil Wayne: Just because we want fair, doesn’t mean we want wussies out there. A little trash talk is a good thing — gets the blood going.

“Everything to Lose” — Dido: Both teams are previous Bowl winners so it’s hard to feel sorry for the losers, but there has to be one. Sorry, Steelers.

“Keep on Runnin’” – Journey: Those of us watching from the living room will be yelling something like this at the players. And yes, we do yell at the TV. Don’t question it.

“You Lost Me” – Christina Aguilera, pictured: The Burlesque star will be singing the national anthem and for this we are glad. For the inevitable person who doesn’t understand the game, asks a bunch of questions and still doesn’t get it — well, just play this.

“Four Minutes” – Madonna with Justin Timberlake: At some point in the game, there will be four crucial minutes that could make or break either team.

“You Win Again” – Jerry Lee Lewis: This is what one coach will say to the other in that midway handshake. Either that or something else altogether.

“Game Over” – V.V. Brown: Yes, four 15-minute quarters should equal one hour, but don’t complain. Just listen to some Christina. Otherwise, after a few hours of game time, rad commercials and snacks, it’s time to focus on basketball.

— Rich Lopez

—  John Wright

Starvoice • 01.21.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYAlan-Cumming-2010-Emmy

Alan Cumming turns 46 on Thursday. The bisexual actor is also one of the more eccentric. In 2010, he was all over the place from the movie Burlesque with Cher and Christina Aguilera to his deliciously snide role as Eli Gold in The Good Wife with Julianna Margulies. But he might take the cake with his 2011 voice over role as Gusty in the film The Smurfs.

………………..

THIS WEEK

Mercury is in Capricorn squaring Saturn and Eris, tending to be worried and argumentative. The good news: Venus is in Sagittarius in harmony to all three offering a pleasant negotiation between those challenges. Simply: Good times with friends will help you see more clearly through the problems.

………………..

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Charm and seeming open-minded wins more agreement than  your arguments. Worrying over losses is useless. Meditate on what matters  to improve what you can.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Frustrated with your social life? Hone your social skills or focus on work for a while, be very productive and earn good notice for your efforts. The social life will kick in.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
Pay close attention to colleagues and higher-ups. Not that you’re lacking, but you could learn a few tricks from them of how to be charming and sociable in ways that will prove to your advantage.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
Don’t be afraid of your own sex appeal. Even in an all-business situation your erotic draw will help you win friends and arguments. Some of those friends, however, aren’t to be trusted.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Talking dirty can be a real turn on and being brutally frank can be refreshing. There’s a time and a place for everything, but with your partner and your good friends, don’t hold back.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
The best way to stay out of trouble is sticking to business — your own. Being nice to colleagues works to your advantage if you don’t expect anything in return. Stay focused on your goals.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Take your work seriously, but not too much. Be willing to laugh at your own ideas. A sense of humor is important and more effective in getting others to accept your ideas.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Leaning on traditional values will get you through crises at hand. How did your grandparents deal with similar problems? Cooking up old family recipes can be a healing meditation.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
It’s hard to know how to be in a relationship even though the answer is obvious: Just be your own sweet self. Turn on the charm (as if that takes any effort) and you’ll be fine.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
You control the outflow if you control your impulses. Keep an eye on your tongue as well; secrets aren’t safe with you right now, but use that openness to examine old doubts, worries and fears.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
Go to the gym and brush up on your Dorothy Parker or Miss Manners if you feel you must. There’s always room for improvement, but really, hon, you’re fine as you are.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
The stress for success is making you a mess. Take a break. You may think there’s no time for that, but it’s a good investment that will help you to work smarter, not harder.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Movie Monday: Get your Cher fix with ‘Burlesque’ in wide release

If we could turn back time … we’d still want to see Cher in this campy hoot

In Burlesque, pop diva Christina Aguilera plays a small-town girl with a big voice who leaves the heartland to chase a predictable dream in L.A. She lands a job as a cocktail waitress at the Burlesque Lounge, meets a couple of hot guys (Cam Gigandet and Eric Dane), builds a friendship with one dancer (Julianne Hough), makes enemies with another (Kristen Bell), and learns a few life lessons from Tess (Cher), a broke, weary, but totally hot burlesque goddess with a heart of gold.

Big surprise: It’s not a great script. The mortgage is due and the moneylenders lurk and gosh, the lounge needs a miracle to survive! But who will go see it for the plot, the hokey dialogue or the not-so-great acting from Aguilera (her character is hardly full-bodied, with a backstory that is even slimmer than her hips).

But do go see it, because the movie is exactly what its audience is looking for: A campy, sexy hoot. It struts. It’s fun. It’s funny. There’s some serious eye candy with Gigandet and a box of cookies. There’s Stanley Tucci, playing Sean, the surly gay manager of the lounge.

And of course, there’s Cher. Cher still has the glam to pull the clichéd Tess off — and she still has that voice. The ups and downs of her life (both Tess and Cher) can be summed up in one show-stopping number: “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.”

Burlesque is not supposed to be Cher’s movie, but she steals it anyway — along with Tucci, whose one-night stand with a potential life partner is heartwarming and real. Tucci may be playing a gay BFF to a burlesque queen, but Sean is not some kind of gay caricature. He’s the heart of a film that has no brain.

Three and a half stars.

— Angela Wilson

DEETS: Burlesque, Cher, Christina Aguilera, Stanley Tucci, Cam Gigandet, Eric Dane. Rated PG-13. 125 mins. Now playing wide release.

—  Rich Lopez

Dance 10, smarts 3

If we could turn back time … we’d still want to see Cher in this campy hoot

QUEER DELIGHT | Stanley Tucci as the gay BFF and Cher imbue ‘Burlesque’ with crazy camp appeal.

3.5 stars
BURLESQUE

Cher, Christina Aguilera, Stanley Tucci, Cam Gigandet, Eric Dane.
Rated PG-13. 125 mins.
Now playing wide release.

………………………………………

In Burlesque, pop diva Christina Aguilera plays a small-town girl with a big voice who leaves the heartland to chase a predictable dream in L.A. She lands a job as a cocktail waitress at the Burlesque Lounge, meets a couple of hot guys (Cam Gigandet and Eric Dane), builds a friendship with one dancer (Julianne Hough), makes enemies with another (Kristen Bell), and learns a few life lessons from Tess (Cher), a broke, weary, but totally hot burlesque goddess with a heart of gold.

Big surprise: It’s not a great script. The mortgage is due and the moneylenders lurk and gosh, the lounge needs a miracle to survive! But who will go see it for the plot, the hokey dialogue or the not-so-great acting from Aguilera (her character is hardly full-bodied, with a backstory that is even slimmer than her hips).

But do go see it, because the movie is exactly what its audience is looking for: A campy, sexy hoot. It struts. It’s fun. It’s funny. There’s some serious eye candy with Gigandet and a box of cookies. There’s Stanley Tucci, playing Sean, the surly gay manager of the lounge.

And of course, there’s Cher. Cher still has the glam to pull the clichéd Tess off — and she still has that voice. The ups and downs of her life (both Tess and Cher) can be summed up in one show-stopping number: “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.”

Burlesque is not supposed to be Cher’s movie, but she steals it anyway — along with Tucci, whose one-night stand with a potential life partner is heartwarming and real. Tucci may be playing a gay BFF to a burlesque queen, but Sean is not some kind of gay caricature. He’s the heart of a film that has no brain.

— Angela Wilson

………………………………

Diva-licious

It’s unfortunate that Cher and Christina Aguilera don’t get a duet on the Burlesque soundtrack. Wonder who was the bigger diva voting against that. But we digress. Fact is, yes, Aguilera has the voice and uses it with all its might on eight of the 10 tracks. Playing with soulful rock, jazz and ’50s throwback a la Back to Basics, she’s in fine form.

Opening with “Something’s Got a Hold On Me,” Aguilera sets the tone, belting out a strong intro and morphing into something from a Jerry Lee Lewis album. In “Tough Lover,” she does her best Little Richard with the high-pitched “whoos,” but still growls her own signature.

When the songs go more contemporary, they deliver some radio-ready tunes. “Express” and “The Beautiful People” are fun highlights and she delivers  in the ballad “Bound to You.” She’s reliable that way.

Cher contributes only two tracks: “Welcome to Burlesque,” a cliche opening weirdly recalling Aladdin’s “Arabian Nights,” and “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.” This one’s a beautiful gem for her. Oscar nom? Hard to say. But maybe. While never earthshattering, there is a lot of fun to be had on the album. Just hearing Cher again has a queer appeal all its own.

— Rich Lopez

Three stars

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

My take on ‘Burlesque’

There’s a review in the print edition this week (and online) of Burlesque, but I didn’t write it because I didn’t screen the film in time. But as the film opens today I wanted to weigh in. Not because I disagree with our reviewer, but because I agree with her … and wonder how many other gay men out there do, too.

I’ve often grouped gay men not into traditional categories like top/bottom, twink/bear, daddy/boy, but rather by their favorite diva. Judy queens. Liza queens. Bette queens. Barbra queens. Celine queens. Mariah queens. Patti queens. Of late, Gaga queens.

And, of course, Cher.

Often, this is a generational thing (I may be Gaga’s oldest living fan); some youngsters don’t even know who Judy is. But Cher seems to cross ages. Maybe it’s her long career (her 2000 single “Believe” made her the oldest soloist ever to have a No. 1 pop hit). Maybe it’s her massively bad career choices (her Oscar follow-up is Mermaids?) or her trans child, Chaz. But for some reason, gay men have always given Cher a pass when it comes to reviews of her work. You can never trust how good she really is, because her fans seem to want to prevent the truth from coming out. They protect her. And sometimes she needs it.

Cher hasn’t made a feature (other than a cameo in Stuck on You) since 1999′s Tea with Mussolini, and she chooses to return to film with a Showgirls-vibed musical from a first-time director? Just how badly does she need money?

But here’s the thing: The movie succeeds. This is not to say it is a good film; it is most definitely not. But it is exactly what it sets out to be. It’s the McDonald’s french fry of cinema: Addictively enjoyable if objectively trashy. Hooray for Cher — she gave us just what we wanted.

So did the writer-director, Steve Antin. He doesn’t miss one cliche. Not the farm-girl (Christina Aguilera) from, of course, Iowa; not the creditors beating at the door, wanting to shut down the Burlesque Lounge, which seems to emerge like a ghostly haunted house from the Sunset Strip. (Here’s my notion for why the club doesn’t turn a profit: 20 dancing girls who get free drinks and big enough salaries to drive BMWs, a six-man live band and staff of bartenders big enough to man a cruise ship.)

But there’s an energy to the movie — it succeeds despite itself. Antin has fun with the musical numbers, and he lingers on the body of hot young boytoy Cam Gigandet, dressing him in a Fosse-inspired bowler with sleeveless shirt and guyliner. It’s gayrific, but straight-friendly. (Eric Dane is in it too, but not the playing the beefcake this time.) Even gayer is Stanley Tucci, perfection as the bitchy old queen with the smart-ass wisecrack, who plays off of Cher expertly. He gives her sometimes wooden acting credibility.

Acting’s one thing, but Cher’s big number — which makes no logical sense in the movie; few scenes do — is a marvel of passion and pride and survival. It makes up for all the nonsense.

Aguilera acquits herself well both as a singer (no surprise there) and as an actress. Is she this year’s Mo’Nique? Not even close. But she could become Cher. And that’s not such a bad thing.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Adam Lambert announces acoustic album that would compete with Justin Bieber’s

Lambert at his Palladium show in Dallas.

Dylan Lewis of For Your Consideration out of Australia talked with Adam Lambert in this video below about all things music. In it, Lambert reveals a possible November/December release for an acoustic album which would put it head-to-head with Justin Bieber’s recent announcement. I wonder who would rein supreme acoustically as pop music’s current king.

Lambert also discusses his desire to work with Christina Aguilera and plans for his sophomore release sometime next spring or summer. Actually, he’s just theorizing it at this point. Clearly this acoustic thing is just a “project” and not his second album. He says this acoustic album will contain stripped-back renditions of previously released songs.

—  Rich Lopez